A local Indian man spreads grains of rice across a rice paddy just after sunrise to get his work done before the day's fierce sun gets too hot.
A local Indian man spreads grains of rice across a rice paddy just after sunrise to get his work done before the day's fierce sun gets too hot.

India is full of small towns that hippies flock to and seem to get sucked into and stuck in. As a result, these feel more like Western communities than a local town. Sure, the shops are run by locals and there is never any doubt that you are in India, but at the same time you are surrounded by white people and everything is catered to them. Restaurants serve more international food than local fare and even the English sounds like that of the travelers rather than the normal Indian version.

A full moon lights up the hippie hangout teepee at the Arba Mistika Guesthouse in Hampi, India
A full moon lights up the hippie hangout teepee at the Arba Mistika Guesthouse in Hampi, India

While Hampi gets travelers and hippies from all over the world, the most common ones are Israeli due to its proximity to Israel. They come in droves and often recognize each other from the last town. Often they just stick together in large groups, but sometimes they break off and befriend non-Israelis. It is an interesting environment, as the rest of the hippie community often looks down on them as does the Indian population in general. Even our guesthouse owner said he is not a big fan…and they give him most of his business.

The full moon drum circle outside our hotel room

The hippie community itself exists as a very restaurant based bunch. A typical day can be spent going to three or four eateries, spending hours in each one chatting, eating, playing instruments, smoking an endless supply of cigarettes (and sometimes other things) and taking naps. The faces are always changing but the activities remain the same. It was especially fascinating to sit in our guesthouse restaurant all day and watch the flow of people.

Music, jam sessions and drum circles are also an integral part of the hippie culture. Most restaurants have some sort of instruments laying around that are often picked up and played by random patrons. Some times this leads to a collection of people playing, sometimes not. Once in a while a place will plan and advertise a formal jam session, but for the most part they are spontaneous and break out at random times. One night, during a full moon, about 30 hippies convened on the tepee outside our room and we were treated to a massive drum circle complete with flutes, digaridoos and guitars that lasted well into the am hours.

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